BBC iPlayer - a success story Friday, May 23, 2008
Image via WikipediaA good friend who recalls my past utterances on the iPlayer, quizzed me this week on whether I had recanted on my view that it had been a waste of money, given the sizeable uptake in use amongst the public.
As I pointed out to him, it's important to distinguish between the service and the infrastructure. On the former, the move by the BBC to make a large portion of its programmes available to view online is fantastic. I've regularly used the service to catch up on programmes I've missed, always streaming the programme, rather than downloading it.
On the latter though, I still believe that the BBC could have elected to adopt one of the mainstream media players and avoided the [development + maintenance] expense and related risk of developing its' own player. I have to qualify that statement by saying I'm not privy to the [licensing] costs the BBC may have faced in outputting its content via a player such as Windows Media player versus in-house development - it may have been significantly cheaper, albeit I suspect that competition between media player vendors may have allowed the BBC to get a good deal. I also have to acknowledge that the iPlayer has improved significantly since I tried the beta version last year and overcame the installation obstacle course that was set.
One notable aspect about the usage success of the BBC iPlayer has been the reaction of ISPs, who bear the distribution burden of carrying the content. Unsurprisingly, their infrastructure has come under greater pressure because of the higher traffic, leading to a potential impact on their quality of service. One of the related articles below has a discussion on this very matter and specifically who should bear the costs of this.